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KARACHI: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Friday asked business community, Sindh government and political stakeholders to sit together and devise a comprehensive plan for the resolution of Karachi’s water crisis, saying an investment of $1 billion from Saudi Arabia is available in this regard.

Also, he said a Chinese delegation has shown interest in Karachi Circular Railways KCR, and hoped good news will come about GSP Plus.

Addressing a ceremony at the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry during a one-day trip to the port city, the premier said: “$ 1 billion is available… it is a gift of investment from Saudi Arabia, not loan. Now it’s up to you. Sit together and make a feasibility plan. Set up desalination plants and I believe that clean water will be available at every home within five years.”

The PM said his government has imposed a temporary ban on non essential consumer goods to save dollar, and the domestic industry. The country spent a whopping $ 4 billion annually on the import of edible oil, alone.

“Why did I ban luxury items? The point is straightforward. The goal was to save the foreign exchange. I did not even increase the duty because some people still afford it. Saving four billion dollars is a national service. When the nation is in trouble, the elite will have to come first,” he said.

Indian IT exports is touching a $ 2 billion mark while ours is standing at $ 1.5 billion. We are leggings behind in all sectors. We need to demonstrate as a united resilient nation to change our fat. “I have requested in the cabinet meeting, the IT minister to make policy to enhance IT sector exports to $ 15 billion in two years.”

The PM said that he has promised with the Chief Minister Sindh that the federal government will construct SITE road.

All provinces must have IT towers, and train our youth to achieve national export targets. All provinces should have export processing zones (EPZs) on government land and that too with transparent policy. The government should provide all necessary infrastructures.

The land should be handed over to the exporter free of cost through one window operations. SEZs can also be developed in villages as well.

Pakistan, Saudi Arabia to discuss augmenting kingdom's $3 billion deposit

About ongoing gas issues being faced by the Karachi’s industry, the PM has sought a formula from the Business community. On Zubair Motiwala’s proposal to cut gas supply to the domestic consumers, Shehbaz refused and said this will create problems and people will take to the streets. “There has to be a method in the madness.”

“I am here to have a frank discussion with you. I am here to know the workable solution to genuine issues,” Shehbaz said.

He also extended thanks to the opposition parties including PPP, JUIF for showing trust in him and elected him as the Prime Minister of the country.

On the dollar surge, Shehbaz said when he assumed office charge on April 11, the dollar was trading at 189 against the Pak rupees. The day I assumed oath the dollar came down to some Rs8 and PSX witnessed 1,000 points gain.

“Without making any political point scoring, I want to make it very clear that the outgoing government after realizing that the united opposition’s vote of no confidence move is going work, it reduced petroleum price to put the next government into trouble.”

He said the world was witnessing a historic hike in petroleum prices, while Pakistan despite highly dependent on external debts, reduced prices of the same. The PTI government in its entire 3.5 years period never bothered to give any relief to the poor.

It took Rs 22 trillion loans, but not a single project was executed.

Under CPEC, a number of power projects were executed in Port Qasim Karachi, Punjab, wind corridor projects in Jhimpir. The country was load shed free before 2018, but in last three and a half years, due to incompetence, poor planning, and corruption we are again witnessing power outages.

He alleged that Khan government gave billion of rupee subsidy for the sugar industry which was being exported. When LNG was available at $ 3 in the international market, oil was imported on expensive prices. This all was not a result of any political chaos, but an utter failure of the government.

It is not right to issue certificates of loyalty and treason after three years of mismanagement. Pakistan did not come into being to be destroyed. If we fall into this debate, then the matter will go too far. Of course, the rupee has fallen in the last 25 days, let the business community tell me the solution and how this problem can be overcome. He said, we have become the net importers today the gap between import and exports in increasing and currently it has reached to $ 45 billion dollars.

The country needs green energy solution. We have to utilize all available resources including the solar and wind. Investors are available in China. Solar is available at the rate of 4 cents per unit.

75 years on, we are still begging from our friends across the world to run our financial affairs. This should not an acceptable for a sovereign nation.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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